Invasive tree pathogens cause immense damage to natural ecosystems and, in turn, significant economic losses. Minnesota’s natural and urban forests have experienced massive ramifications from the introduction of several exotic pathogens—Dutch elm disease and oak wilt, for example.
A recent, newer threat is Heterobasidion Root Disease (HRD, also called annosum root rot) that has the potential to devastate Minnesota’s pines and other conifers. Many pathogens like HRD spread through windborne spores. Oftentimes windborne pathogens are only detected after being established in an area for some time.
New molecular biosurveillance tools can use DNA technology to help detect forest diseases before they establish. Blanchette’s team is developing such molecular biosurveillance tools for a number of priority invasive pathogens to facilitate early detection of tree diseases across Minnesota.
- What is the best way to trap windborne fungal spores for molecular testing?
- What are the best sampling methods for invasive Phytophthora species?
- Where are HRD and other invasive tree diseases detected in Minnesota?
This work will establish a new and effective biosurveillance monitoring program for the early detection of tree diseases in Minnesota. Being able to detect diseases early enables preventative measures to reduce the spread and impact of diseases.
- Detecting Heterobasidion irregulare in Minnesota and Assessment of Indigenous Fungi on Pines (Forests, 2021)
News and media
- CFANS Research Symposium 2023
- University of Minnesota Arboretum presentation, 2022
- Pikes Peak Mycological Society, 2022
- North Central Forest Pest Workshop, 2022
- Upper Midwest Invasive Species Conference, 2022